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chuck540z3

Salt Weathering Technique Tips

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Here is my step by step process of salt weathering. I know that many of you have done this before and you have your own methods, but I’ve done this on my last 5 builds and I now have the time down to 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.

For most salt weathering, make sure that you have a good coat of Future on a dry painted surface beforehand. I prefer Model Master enamel paint rather than using acrylics, because the advantage of enamels over a good base coat of Future is that you can easily remove paint you don’t want later with solvent. With acrylics, you’re sort of stuck with what you get, since removing acrylic paint after it dries can be very tricky.

Here’s a pic of the tools you will need to do the deed. You need a large flat surface that I recommend you cover with newspaper, a spray bottle filled with warm water, sea salt in a grinder, regular table salt in a shaker, a hair dryer and of course your air brush. For this build I did everything in my spray booth, but I’ve also done this on my kitchen counter fairly successfully, much to my wife’s chagrin. :thumbsup:/>/>

Salt20.jpg

Prior to getting started, I mixed up some enamel paint in a variety of colors. For the Medium Gray color on the top of the fuselage, I mixed up some of this color with a little bit of white to lighten the color, then I thinned it at least double what I normally would so that it was more of a wash than actual paint. I then added a few drops of lacquer thinner to give it some “heat†so that it would adhere and dry more quickly than normal. Weathering on the top that is exposed to salt spray and sun usually results in faded colors, so I want something lighter than the base color for contrast, but still with the same color hues. For the sides and bottom, I used thinned Dark Ghost Gray without any white paint to lighten it, since I found it to be very light already against the darker pre-shaded base coat. Since the bottom doesn’t see much sun and the color is already very light, you want the blotchy look without lightening it too much. I also mixed some “grime†in the form of Burnt Umber mixed with Flat Black, again thinned a lot with paint thinner and a few drops of lacquer thinner.

One thing to note about these Model Master flat gray enamel paints is that they dry very quickly already, so they are perfect for this salt weathering process where drying time is important. With drying accelerants like lacquer thinner and a hair dryer, they behave almost like acrylics for drying time. Other enamel paint may have different drying characteristics, so experiment with them first before you take the plunge.

The other issue is masking off areas where you don’t want paint, like the black skunk stripe and engine shrouds in this build. I have masked these areas off in prior builds, but the Tamiya tape I use does not react too favorably to water. When removed from these dark areas it leaves a whitish haze to the Future coat below that does not go away with drying. After hitting it with more Future and Windex, the haze will go away, so not all is lost if you do this. For this build I want a little weathering on this paint, because it looks more natural than pristine gloss black and I can remove any offensive paint with solvent later. The cockpit, of course, needs to be protected, so the tape stays on no matter what happens to protect it from both paint and salt water.

When you’ve gathered all this stuff up and you’re ready to start, I’m sure you will be a little apprehensive about potentially destroying 6 months of work. Ok, you’re going to be TERRIFIED! , so remember this: Your model is made of plastic and it is covered with water proof paint and a coat of Future, so almost everything you do from this point on can be reversed- sort of. No guts, no glory, so let’s get started!

Starting on the top surface, spray down your model with warm water so that it’s wet enough to start dripping off. Then take your salt grinder and deposit salt crystals all over it in a fairly even distribution. These salt crystals are irregularly shaped already and as they dissolve with the warm water, they will create a nice random distribution of a mask……

Salt21.jpg

Salt22.jpg

For the sides, I like to use finer crystals of salt, so the plain old salt shaker works best for this to give finer detail, but you need to hold your model sideways so that the salt and water don’t fall off

Salt24.jpg

Don’t worry about getting salt into places you don’t want. This will all disappear when you rinse it off……

Salt26.jpg

Now get out your hair dryer and dry the salt crystals as they form little pools of salt. Keep the heat and blower setting to low, because you don’t want to cook your model or blow all the salt off before it has a chance to dry.

When everything is fairly dry (5-8 minutes), put the thinned gray paint into your air brush and get started. I like to use very low spray pressures of about 10 psi so that I can control where the paint will go. Obviously you should be trying to paint all of the surfaces that have the color you’re using while avoiding black paint, wheel wells, engine shrouds and the radome which doesn’t usually weather like the rest of the aircraft. I spray just enough paint to get a light haze over all the salt crystals, then I get out the hair dryer again and dry the model for about 5 more minutes. All paint should be fairly dry to the touch at this point.

If you’re not in a hurry, you can let it dry longer, then wash off the salt crystals under the kitchen tap, re-apply some more salt, dry the model and spray on the next color (if any). Since these 1/32 birds are so big and I’m impatient, I simply tilt the model at 45 degrees and re-spray the salt crystals with the spray bottle, so that the salt is redistributed as it runs longitudinally downward towards the newspaper. When everything has moved around a bit, I dry it again with the hair dryer…..

Salt23.jpg

I then spray the dark grime mix I’ve created, mostly along panel lines but also a few random spots. This gives the model a randomly looking dirty look, quite different than the last paint wash which was light colored. Don’t overdo this or it will turn out too dark.

When the top is dry, flip the model over and do the bottom the same way, with light colored paint wash first, re-spray the salt, then do the darker color last. This is also the time when I spray the sides, because it’s almost the same color as the bottom. Before I go to the darker paint, I flip the model over and hit the air bladders under the wings with the light colored paint to replicate what I’ve seen in pics. I also spray a bit here and there on the upper part, “just ‘causeâ€. What you want is a totally random and multicolored weathering effect, just like the real deal.

When all this is finished and the model is dry for about ½ hour, I go to my kitchen sink and place the model carefully under the tap and rinse it with warm water. Again, make sure the water isn’t too hot or you’ll regret it. It’s impossible to not get certain areas like the cockpit wet, but try to avoid them as you rinse your model thoroughly. When you think you’ve got all the salt crystals off, place your model somewhere on a soft cloth (or building box like mine) and dry it again with the hair dryer.

This is when you’ll really notice the work you’ve accomplished. The mottled effect of the salt mask really comes out as the model dries. If there’s some spots you’ve missed or don’t like, you can rub them off with solvent and then re-apply the salt and try the whole thing again. The enamel paint is dry enough to handle, but it’s still fragile enough that you don’t want to rub it too hard with your hands.

After I’m done with the painting and re-painting, I let the model dry for another half hour, then I get out the Q-tips and small pieces of paper towel soaked in solvent and start removing paint from those areas where I don’t want the paint wash. Paint is carefully removed from decals, black paint and other areas very easily at this stage. You might even leave some of it on certain decals to replicate weathering of these features. If you wait until the next day, it will be a lot harder, so time is important while the paint hasn’t had a chance to cure. When you’re happy with the distribution of paint, rub the whole thing down with wet paper towel to remove the “edges†created by the salt boundaries.

Now some pics of the salt weathering results. If you think some areas are too “muchâ€, another coat of Future will smooth things out and make the weathering more subtle.

Salt32.jpg

Salt27.jpg

F-4J-5.jpg

I have more examples below.....

Chuck Sawyer

Edited by chuck540z3

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And here's me thinking that the salt method was only good for doing paint chips on Japanese WW2 aircraft. :bandhead2:

Kev

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Now that's cool to see that someone else had the same idea :bandhead2: I tried the same thing some months ago to try something new on a Tarmac Baseplate and was happy with the results. The other cool thing about this technique is that the dried salt leaves behind some ultrafine crystaline texture that is impossible to replicate with any other technique.

One minor rermark though: corrosion control wouldn't allow such a patina to build up. What you see on that VF-101 bird is a mix of faded paint, half dried morning dew on the surface, a little iced layer partially melting and some mix of fresh and old paint where panellines have been painted after reattaching panels.

István

Edited by I.Illes

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Definitely gonna try that one!!!! :whistle:

Thanks for posting this,will be very helpful.

Cheers

Tony

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The other cool thing about this technique is that the dried salt leaves behind some ultrafine crystaline texture that is impossible to replicate with any other technique.

I found this out recently when I used the salt technique for the first time. I didn't really wash the salt off with water, however, but instead I just picked it off with a toothpick. So if you want some crystalline texture there, then just pick off the salt (and some small crystals stay behind); if not, then wash the salt off with water. Modelling is an art. Great work and a gorgeous phantom.

JON

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A few more pics.....

BK6.jpg

T11.jpg

_DSC2398.jpg

_DSC2394.jpg

For my recent Lancaster build, I didn’t use Future before salt weathering because I wanted a chipped metal effect more than a blotchy look. To do this I painted the entire aircraft with Alclad steel, let it dry a few days, applied pre-shading and the salt as above, then did the camo-masking with raised paper to get the feathered effect between the 2 colors.

Paint6.jpg

Paint10.jpg

Once this dried after about 10 minutes, I washed it off, touched up some areas with more paint, then applied Future and decals. After decaling, I re-sprayed some thinned and lightened paint over them to dull them up a bit and voila! A war weary Lancaster!....

Final8.jpg

Final10.jpg

Final18.jpg

Even the bombs get the salt treatment….

Final29.jpg

Thanks for your interest.

Edited by chuck540z3

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Just a thought,but has anyone ever tried using real ocean salt water or dissolveing salt in boiling water and letting it dry?

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Just a thought,but has anyone ever tried using real ocean salt water or dissolveing salt in boiling water and letting it dry?

You wind up doing sort of the same thing in many areas where the warm water has dissolved the salt. You get a gradation of a complete mask with the salt crystals that have not dissolved, some partial mask of partial dissolution and then a random blotchy look to where the salt water had dried and then re-crystallized. The F-16 in the pic above was almost all warm water with salt that re-crystallized, because I wanted a more subtle blotchy pattern than the Navy jets.

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I just tried the salt technique for the first time and thought I'd share a cautionary note based on my poor results.

After applying the second layer of paint and rubbing off the salt, I found that the water I'd used to adhere the salt to the model had kind of stained the paint. Even after repainting the model the staining showed through in a ghost-like image. I suspect it had something to do with the paint I used (Tamiya) and that I hadn't applied any clear coat over it.

Consider yourself warned!

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I just tried the salt technique for the first time and thought I'd share a cautionary note based on my poor results.

After applying the second layer of paint and rubbing off the salt, I found that the water I'd used to adhere the salt to the model had kind of stained the paint. Even after repainting the model the staining showed through in a ghost-like image. I suspect it had something to do with the paint I used (Tamiya) and that I hadn't applied any clear coat over it.

Consider yourself warned!

Couple of questions.

Did you have a good coat of Future on the model to begin with? If not, you're asking for trouble.

What kind of staining are you talking about? For the most part, you WANT to stain the paint if you're doing a heavily weathered Navy fighter.

I assume the Tamiya paint is acrylic. Acrylic paints require much quicker rinsing times than enamel, so maybe you left the second coat of paint on too long?

One other thing that you should note is that many salt weathering blemishes can be toned down or even removed by simply applying another coat of clear coat like Future.

Edited by chuck540z3

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No, I didn't have a coat of Future, so that's where I went wrong.

The staining looked like the water stains you'd see on wood furniture, a small, lighter area of paint. It didn't look all that bad when I finally finished the model, but the effect was completely unplanned and thus uncontrollable (at least to me).

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Your plane looks amazing! Stumbling upon your work gave me the inspiration for painting my Warmachine/Hordes (miniature game) army, using this technique.

I understood that you did somekind of paintjob before starting the weathering. Is there any chance that you could give me a step by step process how you "pre"painted the plane? Accurate color codes would rock the most as the shades vary quite a lot on the pictures (hard to see the exact tone)! Also any tips are highly appreciated.

Big thanks for the inspiration mate! Great work!

Here's a pic of a model I'm going to try this on to

manticore.png

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September 17/10

More pics of the Lancaster. Remember, this time I used salt BEFORE Future on an Alclad metal base. A little more difficult, but I think it turned out pretty good....

Final12.jpg

Final22.jpg

Final24.jpg

More bomb pics....

Final31.jpg

Final33.jpg

Final30.jpg

And a recent F-4E build in February, 2012

Before

Decal1.jpg

After

Wx11.jpg

Edited by chuck540z3

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I love this writeup! This technique looks very interesting and is well explained and demonstrated.

One think I'm confused about though. If I understand correctly, you start with a preshade, put the camo colors down, then decals and future. At this point you salt and put a lightened color on the top surfaces.

However, the end result looks like small splotches of light showing through a darker shade. How is this happening? Is it due to the coat of grimy that is applied after the lighter color? Or are you washing off most of the lighter color with the salt and just leaving some splotches of lighter colored salt on the surface?

Edited by dmk0210

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I love this writeup! This technique looks very interesting and is well explained and demonstrated.

One think I'm confused about though. If I understand correctly, you start with a pre-shade, put the camo colors down, then decals and Future. At this point you salt and put a lightened color on the top surfaces.

However, the end result looks like small splotches of light showing through a darker shade. How is this happening? Is it due to the coat of grimy that is applied after the lighter color? Or are you washing off most of the lighter color with the salt and just leaving some splotches of lighter colored salt on the surface?

Thanks. Based upon quite a few PM's to me recently, I'm glad that this thread has been a source of instruction AND inspiration.

Unlike my Tomcat at the start of this thread I changed things up a bit on the Lancaster. I used the salt after a coat of Alclad dark aluminum and pre-shading only- no Future and no decals- in order to get the metal color to come through after washing the salt off. For the Tomcat I just wanted the weathered dirty look, but for the Lanc I wanted the chipped paint look.

After washing off the salt from the Lanc, I did a lot of touch-ups with my airbrush to tone things down a bit because the chipped look was too intense for scale. Once I was happy with the overall look, I applied Future, decaled, added a bit more Future to seal the decals, then I sprayed some light coats of light and dark shades of paint to weather the decals so that they blended in a bit.

After you've tried the salt weathering technique a few times like me, there really are no set rules of application. You just "wing it", depending on the final result you're trying to achieve. I've got a 1/32 CF-18B that's going to get the salt treatment fairly soon, but for this build the salt weathering target is to get a bit of a smudgy look, but not as intense as the F-14. I'll add the results to this thread once they become available.

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Thanks for the reply and clarification.

This has definitely inspired me to break out an F4U Corsair and give it a shot. I'm going for that splotchy/faded/grungy look like in the F-14 pics. I've been wondering for a while how I might simulate that. This looks like a fun way to try.

Edited by dmk0210

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Hello I am new here and I built models when I was a kid and here I am 35 years later building models again. I am learning the new technics of weathering and reading a lot on the subject. When you mention Future are you refering to Furture floor wax and if so what percentage mixture are you using?

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Hello I am new here and I built models when I was a kid and here I am 35 years later building models again. I am learning the new technics of weathering and reading a lot on the subject. When you mention Future are you refering to Future floor wax and if so what percentage mixture are you using?

If you search around this forum you'll find a LONG thread on the application of Future floor wax, which lately here in Canada is marketed as "Pledge Floor Finish with Future Shine". Same stuff as always.

When I apply Future I always add a little Windex to thin it a bit so that it takes on a faint blue color. I find it sprays much nicer that way and it settles into small spaces easier if thinned. If I want a real shiny surface, I also spray a thin coat of 100% Windex as a "flash coat" after the Future dries, which has the effect of redissolving the Future and smoothing out any pebbles as it dries.

When you're done, the surface should look something like this, which is also what you need prior to the application of decals...

Prepaint6.jpg

Edited by chuck540z3

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I've also found adding a bit of windex (just a bit) to the water you use to"soak" the model helps it not bead up and get a more even coating of salt solution.

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I've also found adding a bit of windex (just a bit) to the water you use to"soak" the model helps it not bead up and get a more even coating of salt solution.

Thanks Shawn, I'll have to give that a try, because sometimes the beading up issue is a tough one.

Now for some more subtle salt weathering on my current build, a CF-18B. I wanted the blotchy look of salt weathering, but I didn't want it to jump out at you, so the cover wash coat was only a little bit lighter than the base coat and I applied it sparingly. Now the results....

CF-18B-20.jpg

CF-18B-19.jpg

CF-18B-11.jpg

Finalfix11.jpg

Finalfix6.jpg

Finalfix8.jpg

Edited by chuck540z3

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Chuck, using your great tutorial took the trepidation out of doing this to my corsair, and I LOVE the results!

5339965550_3c83134342.jpg

Thank you!

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Question, do you do any exhaust and/or other pastel weathering before or after the salt weathering?

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after, most people use water to wash the salt off. It would also remove any pastels.

I did all my salt weathering, then when done did the rest.

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